“I tried to like it, but I just got tired of the “Is he dead? Is he not dead?”” That was my friend’s response when I asked her if she liked Ann Patchett’s “State of Wonder”. My friend said, “Read the first 100 pages and see if you like it.”
I laughed when she mentioned the first 100 pages, because I had had a conversation with myself the previous weekend about the 100 page mark. I spent a Sunday planted on the couch completely engrossed in the book “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan. The first 10-20 pages grabbed me instantly, though I found myself getting a wee bit bored until I reached the 100th page. At that point – the 100th page – the story just seemed to take off.
Yesterday, while I sat, semi-planted, reading “State of Wonder”, my friend’s voice echoed in my head. I was enjoying the book prior to getting to the 100th page, and I knew I was going to finish the book. Still, I read with an active anticipation of reaching the 100th page. And again, when I reached the 100th page, I found the book seemed to take off.
I have not yet finished the book, but I will finish it. I’m hooked, and I want to know how it ends. Plus, I trust the person who recommended the book to me. I’m looking forward to reading the other book he recommended, and I am curious to see if I find that book takes off around the 100th page mark.
What say you? Do you give books 100 pages to grab you? Or, if you are not jazzed before page 100, do you drop it like a bad habit?
What is it about 100 pages? Is common knowledge shared among writers that readers must be hooked – that the story must take off – by the 100th page?
For the record, I highly recommend Robin Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore”. In fact, I recommended it to my friend who initially recommended “State of Wonder” to me. He is listening to the audio version of it, and I look forward to his thoughts when he is done listening to it. The book is a fun and easy read. I really enjoyed Robin Sloan’s writing style. I look forward to his second novel.
As for Ann Patchett’s “State of Wonder”, I suspect I’ll recommend it. I use the word suspect, because I have yet to finish it. If the ending disappoints me, I may simply re-recommend Sloan’s book.